The Moon’s rocks fanned out beneath us, creating a whirlwind of dust around Orion’s Lunar Module. My crew of three and I had everything we needed: Positive attitudes, distinguished skills, and good-natured joking. I valued my colleagues’ chemical engineering aptitude, focus, and determination in particular. These proficiencies kept morale high and built confidence that we would succeed.
I surveyed the scene outside our ship while taking the first steps out onto the South Pole’s dry surface. We landed on the rim of Shackleton Crater, where we would get the most sunlight for our tests. Even with my visor’s thin golden layer, the Sun was a beautiful eyesore. I basked in both hope and excitement remembering the crowd’s anticipation back on Earth. It was jarring to be in this otherworldly environment away from all of humanity cheering us on. I knew I couldn’t appreciate the view or remembrance for long. There was work to be done.
First, we placed mirrors on the rim to cast light into the cold trap. Then, we deployed a lunar rover where two of us headed down to set our solar powered contraption, The Hydrogen Tracer, a large, seven foot tall rod planted into the center of the crater containing spherical sensors which detected hydrogen concentrations within a 20,000 ft radius. Information from The Tracer would continue for years to come. In the end, our mission would allow us to spearhead future moon-based developments of everything from water to fuel.
After one week of testing, we left armed with knowledge, samples, and a hope that we had procured future moon explorers a chance at seeing the stars from an established moon base. As we returned to Earth, the cheers from the people couldn’t have been any sweeter as the golden reflection continued to shine.